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Scorpion sting on a plane: can a passenger seek damages?

Airline officials don't know how the scorpion got on the plane. It seems very likely, based on news reports, that the bugger hopped aboard in Mexico, where the flight originated.

In case you happened to miss the story, a woman aboard an Alaska Airlines flight due to take off for Portland from Los Angeles earlier this month suffered a scorpion sting, much to the surprise of all aboard.

The woman didn't die, but she the unexpected injection did make her hand swell up. She was treated by airport medics and decided to forego her flight. Officials say the scorpion was summarily executed and no others were found in a 40-minute sweep of the aircraft. The plane then went on its way.

Many might ask whether the airline deserves to be held liable for the pain and suffering this woman endured. Shouldn't ground crews have been responsible for preventing such a stowaway from getting aboard?

The question of whether a personal injury claim exists depends on the particular circumstances. It is something to discuss with an attorney. But on the face of things it would seem that this event could fall into the category of an Act of God. That is, it amounts to an extraordinary natural event that wasn't reasonably foreseeable or preventable.

As some of the reports about this story have noted, attacks by scorpions on a plane, though uncommon, do happen. Rarely are they deadly.

That might surprise a lot of people whose only knowledge about the scary arachnids is based on what they've heard and what they see -- an eight-legged creature with claws and a fierce looking stinger. But according to the Mayo Clinic, of the estimated 1,500 scorpion species, the vast majority (all but about 30) are generally harmless.

While this accident might not have been inevitable, it does seem that it was unforeseeable.

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